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Student newspaper employees walk out in protest

ATHENS — Students who work for a University of Georgia newspaper are protesting a decision they say gives control over stories to non-students.

Students at the The Red & Black newspaper walked out Wednesday night after a non-student was named editorial director with final say on editorial content.

The newspaper's editor-in-chief, UGA student Polina Marinova, was among staffers who walked out. It happened after Ed Morales, who had been the paper's editorial adviser and then became editorial director, was given full editorial control of the newspaper, the students said.

Morales did not return messages Thursday morning from The Associated Press.

Adding professionals to the staff is part of an effort to provide a better product for readers and better training for student journalists, the newspaper said in a statement on its website.

"The Red & Black does not plan to have these professionals assume the role of our student Editor in Chief," the statement said.

"The editorial director is a counselor, teacher, mentor, coordinator and manager," it said. "The editorial director is charged with helping students make smart content decisions prior to publication, particularly on stories, which involve issues of libel or standards of quality and ethics. It is not, nor has it ever been the intention of the board to censor student content."

The changes were outlined in an Aug. 6 email from Kent Middleton, head of the journalism department at UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and a member of The Red & Black's board of directors.

But design editor Amanda Jones said the paper should be run by students, not professionals.

"The students have lost control of the paper, and a student newspaper is supposed to be run by students," she told The Banner-Herald.

Jones said the students have also have received memos advising them that they are no longer allowed to make mistakes.

"You're supposed to make mistakes and learn," she said.